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All Eyes on Iger as Clock Ticks on Lasseter’s Leave of Absence

‘The Hollywood Reporter’ writes that the Pixar and Disney Feature Animation chief’s return looks increasingly unlikely. 

John Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence in November from Pixar and Disney Feature Animation, a leave increasingly looks permanent as that time frame winds down.

John Lasseter took last November a leave of absence from his dual posts as chief creative officer at Pixar and Disney Feature Animation to address what were in his words “missteps” and in others as “misconduct” in his treatment of women working at the studios.

Lasseter said in the memo announcing his move that the leave was temporary and he expected to return within six months.

Now, with the six month mark approaching, the question has become less about when Lasseter will return and more about if he will return.

In an article in The Hollywood Reporter, Kim Masters writes that many animators increasingly expect that Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger will not bring back Lasseter.  "Bob is about keeping peace in the family," one Disney veteran told the trade. "He's not anxious to take on defending somebody with that kind of reputation."

The complaints about Lasseter apparently go beyond inappropriately hugging and touching women, the article states, to include hogging credit on projects and bullying and belittling employees.

If Lasseter were to return, its effect on morale at the studio is expected be significantly detrimental. "If John goes back, it will kill women in animation," a former Pixar insider tells The Reporter. "The message will be so clear: Shut up and take it."

The Reporter states that many expect Iger to name new heads of Pixar and Disney Animation. Expectations are that Inside Out director Pete Docter would take over at Pixar in Emeryville, while Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia director Rich Moore and Frozen director Jennifer Lee would take over at Disney in Burbank.

Either way, all eyes are on Iger, who would face intense criticism if he brings back Lasseter. And should Lasseter -- the man Hollywood had for years largely credited with building Pixar into an animation juggernaut -- not return, all eyes will be on his next steps, whatever they may be.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Thomas J. McLean's picture

Tom McLean has been writing for years about animation from a secret base in Los Angeles.